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Is it wrong to question what the Bible says?

Critics of faith use phrases like “blind faith” and “sheeple” to suggest that Christians are not allowed to think for themselves. That’s not only untrue, it’s hilariously ignorant. Christianity, according to the Bible, not only requires us to think for ourselves, it demands fact-checking. The Bible requires us to investigate what we hear, see, and read. And the Bible is not shy about saying, “If this is wrong, we’re in deep trouble.” Anyone who says “Christians cannot question the Bible” probably hasn’t questioned that idea!

Commandment 11: Thou Shalt Fact-Check

God put a LOT of instructions in the Bible telling us not to be gullible or blind in our faith. That includes checking, testing, and verifying what we read in Scripture. There are good reasons for this: when you know you’re telling the truth, you want people to investigate. Their investigations is only going to make those truths more obvious. So, the Bible tells us that:

  • ...Scripture is supported by human experience (Romans 1:18-20) and nature (Psalm 19:1).
  • ...it’s good to verify spiritual claims—even when they come from a “holy” person (Acts 17:11).
  • ...not everything people say is true, so we ought to double-check (1 John 4:1).
  • ...some “arguments” are illogical, so we shouldn’t fall for bad thinking (Colossians 2:8).
  • ...having a Christian faith doesn’t mean being naïve; it means being careful (Matthew 10:16).
  • ...Christianity has consequences; it would be a BIG deal if we’re wrong (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  • ...what the Bible says comes from trustworthy sources (Luke 1:2; 2 Peter 1:16).

Not only are Christians “allowed” to question the Bible, we’re supposed to question it. However, questioning doesn't mean that we get to be the authority just because we said so.

Slow Your Roll

While Scripture tells us to be rational and factual, it also reminds us that we’re not perfect. Being truly reasonable includes knowing our own limitations. The Bible tells us that:

  • ...we can’t pretend to know as much as God does (Isaiah 55:8).
  • ...human nature tends to be selfish and excuse-making (Jeremiah 17:9).
  • ...just because something sounds good doesn’t make it true (2 Timothy 4:3; Galatians 1:8-9).
  • ...first impressions can be deceiving (Proverbs 18:17).
  • ...some things only make sense through our relationship with Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14).
  • ...some Scriptures can be badly misunderstood if we’re not careful (2 Peter 3:15-16).

That means “questioning” the Bible doesn’t include pretending we’re perfect and all-knowing ourselves. We need to understand the limits of our own knowledge as we ask questions and investigate the truth.

Questioning vs. Condemning

Putting everything together, we see that “questioning” the Bible is fine—so long as it’s sincere, honest, and seeking truth. What’s not OK is what critics typically mean when they talk about “questioning” faith. Most skeptics really mean ignoring, rejecting, condemning, or dismissing the Bible without giving it real consideration. Their "questioning" is just a way to ignore it or discard it when convenient.

If the Bible is really the Word of God, and if it’s true, we’d expect it to stand up to an honest examination. We shouldn't be scared to ask questions or allow others to do the same. Spoiler alert: for thousands of years, the Bible has been the most analyzed and attacked collection of writings on the planet, and it’s holding up more than OK on its own. At the same time, and for the same reasons, if the Bible IS the Word of God, then it’s not a good idea to pretend we know better. That kind of “questioning” is dangerously arrogant.

Ultimately, what we find is that the Bible proves itself true enough for us to trust it when we’re not sure. It’s earned the benefit of the doubt—and most of our questions about Scripture tend to resolve once we’ve had a chance to honestly investigate further.

To be clear, not everything the Bible says is going to be easy to understand. Not everything is comfortable to read. And honestly, not everything it says is what we want to be told. And that’s OK. We’re allowed to wonder and struggle and work those things out. What we’re not “allowed” to do, or shouldn’t do, is pretend Scripture is something we can pick-and-choose how to believe.

TL;DR

Scripture commands us to be wise, clear in our thinking, and to fact-check what it says. But the Bible also reminds us that we’re not perfect, and we can’t take our feelings to be facts. There’s a huge difference between “checking on” what the Bible says versus “picking and choosing” when and how to believe it. So long as we’re sincerely trying to understand the truth, our faith has nothing to fear from honest “questioning.” Arrogant or hard-headed ignorance, though, is not a reasonable kind of “questioning.”

By: Jeff Laird

Jeff is a staff writer with Got Questions Ministries and used to be a mechanical engineer. When he's not accidentally setting things on fire in his workshop, or petting strange dogs, he loves helping people better understand God’s Word and how it applies to our lives. Jeff's calling is to untangle the "big picture" of Christian faith, making it easier to understand.


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